Posts tagged with: progressivism

Peter Paul Rubens 139Now that conservative Christians are something of a favored group by the executive branch of the US government again after a two-term hiatus, it’s time for many to dust off those old memes regarding the theocratic tendencies of the Christian Right.

To wit, Julie Ingersoll throws some Reconstructionist shade at Betsy DeVos: “Opposition to public education for the religious right is rooted in a worldview in which education is solely the responsibility of families (and explicitly not the civil government), and in which there are no religiously neutral spheres of influence.” There’s a lot wrong with that sentence.

What is more interesting to me, though, is that Ingersoll goes on to invoke the figure of Abraham Kuyper, among others, as influential for DeVos, an influence that has been noticed elsewhere, too. Ingersoll grants that holding to views like those of Kuyper does not necessarily make one a Reconstructionist: “These views were popularized in the work of Rushdoony and the Christian Reconstructionists and became dominant in the religious right, which is not to say that everyone who holds them is a Christian Reconstructionist.”

But this shouldn’t prevent one from being suspicious. Perhaps guilt by association is legitimate in this case after all. So if there is a distinction between Christian conservatism, Kuyperianism, and Reconstruction, we shouldn’t be too careful in distinguishing them, because, after all, “It’s a mistake to think of these distinct movements with hard boundaries that prevent cross fertilization, particularly since Christian education as a replacement for public education is a place where this happens.”
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tyson-chambers1“Men have never been so educated, but wisdom, even as an idea, has conspicuously vanished from the world.” –Whittaker Chambers

The vain self-confidence of high-minded planners and politicians has caused great harm throughout human history, much of it done in the name of “reason” and “science” and “progress.” In an information age such as ours, the technocratic temptation is stronger than ever.

As the Tower of Babel confirms, we have always had a disposition to think we can know more than we can know, and can construct beyond what we can construct. “Let us build ourselves a tower with its top in the heavens. Let us make a name for ourselves.”

America was wise to begin its project with active constraints against age-old conceits, but we have not been without our regimes of busybody bureaucrats seeking to plan their way to enlightened equilibrium and social utopia.

Such attitudes emerge across a range of specialties, but a recent proposition by popular scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson captures the essence rather well.

Thomas Sowell is fond of saying that “the most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best,” and for Tyson, his preferred pool of “evidence” hustlers offer a very basic answer. (more…)

Blog author: jsunde
Friday, January 22, 2016
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OneNationUnderGod_CVRChristians continually struggle to find the right approach, balance, and tone in their political witness, either co-opting the Gospel for the sake of political ends or retreating altogether out of fear of the same.

In their new book, One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics, Bruce Ashford and Chris Pappalardo pave a fresh way forward. Though I haven’t quite finished it, thus far the book offers a refreshingly rich assessment of political ideology as it relates (or doesn’t) to the Gospel and Christian mission.

In a piece for Canon and Culture, Ashford whets our appetites on this same topic, providing a clear overview of how Christianity differs from conservatism and progressivism, as well as where and how we might engage or abandon each.

From my own experience, Christians seem to have an easier time discerning these distinctions with progressivism, most likely due to its overt rejection of or disregard for permanent truths. With conservatism, however, we tend to forget that without a particular focus on transcendence, conservatism languishes in its own shortsightedness and folly. (more…)

The final Acton Lecture Series event of 2015 took place on December 10th as the Acton Institute joined with our friends at the Mackinac Center to welcome Lawrence Reed, the president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

Reed is always a favorite ALS speaker, and once again he did not disappoint; his address was entitled “Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism”, and was based on his recently released book of the same title. Reed’s lecture is available to view below, and be sure to check out Reed’s interview on Radio Free Acton if you haven’t done so already.

Larry Reed Panorama

FEE President Larry Reed speaks to a full house at the Acton Lecture Series

Defenders of individual liberty and the American Constitutional order have long argued that Progressivism is a corrosive philosophy that undermines individual rights while failing to produce the social good claimed by its promoters. Why do progressive solutions to societal and economic problems so often fail? Perhaps it’s because the progressive philosophy is undergirded by a system of mythology that rivals that of the ancient Greeks.

On this edition of Radio Free Acton, we’re joined by Lawrence Reed, President of the Foundation for Economic Education, for a discussion of his latest book: Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of ProgressivismWe’ll examine a few of the myths and observe the results of decades of progressive indoctrination at the university level.

You can listen to the podcast using the audio player below.

The Fall 2015 Acton Lecture Series kicked off on September 17 with an address from Donald Devine, Senior Scholar at the Fund for American Studies, and formerly – and most famously – Ronald Reagan’s Director of the Office of Personnel Management, where he earned the nickname “Reagan’s Terrible Swift Sword of the Bureaucracy” from the Washington Post. These days, he spends his time traveling around the country teaching Constitutional Leadership Seminars, and working hard to save the marriage between libertarianism and traditionalism, which he argues is the basis for America’s greatness.

You can view Devine’s presentation below, and be sure to register for upcoming Acton Lecture Series events. They’ll be filling up fast!

dollarbillcryingActon’s director of research, Samuel Gregg, is looking ahead to a post-Obama economy. He notes that every presidency has problems it leaves behind upon exiting the White House, but we have some major economic and moral obstacles to overcome.

Gregg outlines the challenges: mounting debt, entitlement programs that keep growing, crony capitalism, unemployment. What to do?

Doing nothing isn’t an option for American conservatives. I’d suggest, however, that the incremental approach generally followed by conservatives—which often amounts to trying to adjust, rather than override or completely dispense with, policies enacted by progressives—isn’t going to be enough either. Conservatives are instinctively wary of major upheavals. Yet if they really believe that progressive economic policies are seriously damaging the common good, they should perhaps do what progressives do: implement fundamental changes.

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